Surgery Centers Halt Lap-Band Procedures Amid Investigations
Two California surgery centers associated with the 1-800-GET-THIN marketing campaign have temporarily stopped offering Lap-Band weight-loss surgeries, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The decision comes days after Allergan, the maker of the Lap-Band, said it would no longer sell the device to surgery centers associated with the 1-800-GET-THINÂ campaign, which is being investigated by state and federal officials (Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times, 2/8).
The Lap-Band procedure is used to treat obesity by surgically implanting a ring around the stomach to discourage overeating.
In December 2011, FDA sent warning letters to 1-800-GET-THIN and its affiliated surgery centers regarding ads that it said were misleading about the procedure.
The company later added a disclosure to its website, saying the surgeries can result in death.
Since 2009, five Southern California patients have died after having the Lap-Band procedure, according to autopsy reports, lawsuits and public records.
According to the health insurance company Aetna, the California Department of Insurance has started an investigation into the business practices of weight-loss surgery centers associated with the marketing initiative.
In addition, members of the U.S. House have called for an investigation into the advertisements, as well as the safety and effectiveness of the Lap-Band deviceÂ (California Healthline, 2/3).
Halting the Procedure
The surgery centers -- New Life Surgery Center in Beverly Hills and Valley Surgical Center in West Hills -- cited recent allegations questioning the safety of the procedure in their decision to stop the surgeries (AP/Sacramento Bee, 2/8).
Facility officials said the allegations "paint a false picture of the care provided overall and discount our capabilities and success rate" (Osburn/Roe, "KPCC News," KPCC, 2/7).
Officials noted that while Lap-Band procedures are halted, they will perform a complete medical and operational review of the surgeries (Ventura County Star, 2/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.